Solo Leveling: ARISE Interview with Netmarble’s Seong-Keon Jin and Inho Kim

    Launching globally on May 8 for Android, iOS, and PC.

    Before the global launch of Solo Leveling: ARISE, Final Weapon had the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Executive Project Director Seong-Keon Jin and Art Director Inho Kim from Netmarble. 

    During Final Weapon’s interview, Seong-Keon Jin and Inho Kim revealed insight into the development of Solo Leveling: ARISE, including Netmarble’s initial approach to the project and the process of faithfully adapting the webtoon into its first game. The developers also discussed its collaboration with Solo Leveling manwha author Chugong and what’s to come after the launch of Solo Leveling: ARISE in our interview.

    Could you please introduce yourself and tell us about your background for our readers?

    Seong-Keon Jin: I started my career in the game industry back in 2002 with the development of Nexon’s Crazy Arcade. I’ve worked on many genres over the years including casual games, shooter and racing titles, and CCG Also, I leveraged my expertise in the action and collectible RPG genre through the development of The King of Fighters ALLSTAR, and by currently leading Solo Leveling: ARISE as an Executive PD at Netmarble.

    Inho Kim: I began my journey in the video games industry as a character modeler through the RPG Red Stone, broadening my expertise across various artistic sectors, including the creation of original characters across numerous projects. I was part of The King of Fighters ALLSTAR team at Netmarble, honing my skills in handling animation-based characters. I’m currently leading the art department for Solo Leveling: ARISE, striving to produce captivating game graphics and designs.

    As Executive Project Director and Art Director, what did your respective roles entail for development of Solo Leveling: ARISE?

    Seong-Keon Jin: I’m in charge of the overall development management of Solo Leveling: ARISE. As Solo Leveling is a beloved IP across the globe, I focused on designing the best gameplay experience possible for players that fits uniquely within the game and aimed to create content that meets the expectations of its many passionate fans.

    Inho Kim: The webtoon inevitably had some parts that needed to be adapted or omitted in the game. I reinterpreted and re-designed certain elements, as well as managed R&D for the art style to adapt them to a 3D environment. I worked on designing the characters in a way that honors their design from the original webtoon, while also creating backgrounds that embody the unique atmosphere of Solo Leveling. I used different shading methods for characters and backgrounds, so that users can experience the distinct style of the IP.

    Additionally, I gave a lot of input on storytelling. For those who already know the world of Solo Leveling, they may find the game very familiar, while those who are unfamiliar with the IP can also discover the unique charm of the franchise through the game’s adaptation of the original story, cinematic cutscenes, dialogue and more.

    How did Netmarble approach the creation of Solo Leveling: ARISE, and what was the development team’s initial reaction to adapting Solo Leveling into its first game?

    Seong-Keon Jin: There were a lot of team members, including myself, who enjoyed the Solo Leveling IP, and we were thrilled when we heard the news Netmarble would be adapting it into a game.

    I believe the key direction for Solo Leveling: ARISE is to ‘develop a game that can deliver the charm of the original Solo Leveling manhwa and webtoon.

    Let me break it down in two ways: 1) faithful recreation of the original IP and 2) maximizing the fun of combat.

    We’ve been working to expand the universe of Solo Leveling while staying faithful to the original story. We’ve worked hard to deliver fun and controlled combat. The original author of the manhwa, Chugong, has praised the expanded stories when he played Solo Leveling: ARISE, and we’ve received positive feedback from fans of the original series, who have highlighted how the game successfully brought the original story to life.

    Also, we work together with Chugong, to continue to stay true to the original stories and themes. He’s given us positive feedback on the game, and I am very satisfied with this collaboration between the developer and the original author.

    The core element of an action game lies in whether players can experience fun, engaging combat, which is pivotal in providing an enjoyable gameplay experience, and that’s been a major praise of the title so far. We are grateful for the constant support from the fan base.

    Sung Jinwoo character art

    Inho Kim: We tried to reflect the art style of the Solo Leveling webtoon as much as possible and implemented various gameplay elements, 2D and cinematic cutscenes, and dialogue to create a more immersive storytelling experience. It was important to design the combat gameplay that suits Solo Leveling. To enhance Sung Jinwoo’s title as the Monarch of Shadows, we have developed two different modes: the Sung Jinwoo Mode and the Hunter Mode. Additionally, we have created a third mode that allows users to play Sung Jinwoo and other Hunters simultaneously.

    Solo Leveling is filled with incredible artwork and sequences that really caught my eye. What was Netmarble’s creative approach to adapting Solo Leveling’s most memorable scenes in the game?

    Inho Kim: What makes Solo Leveling: ARISE remarkable is the fact that the original webtoon, which was praised for its excellent art style, is now adapted into a 3D game, and we wanted to make the most of this feature.

    We tried to combine the webtoon’s articulate scenes with cool action sequences and combat elements that were hard to fully convey in the webtoon, resulting in unique cinematic narratives you can see in game.

    We experimented with different ways to apply transition effects to turn a 2D image from the webtoon into 3D and vice versa. To better utilize transition effects, we also tested features that auto-captured scenes in our Unity Engine.

    However, the team agreed that it is better in quality when concept designers’ hand-draw animations inspired by the original webtoon, which is how we came up with the current animation.

    Players would be able to experience a fast-paced and detailed combat with characters including Igris and Kang Taeshik, who alternate between 2D and 3D presentation.

    We used a 2D Spine to maximize the emotions of characters and monsters other than the combat scenes. This is best represented by the Giant Statue of Cartenon Temple.

    We first tried 3D modeling to depict the horror-esque smile of the Statue. However, it turned out that Spine was more appropriate and effective than 3D to bring the creepy, yet frightening smile of the Statue as seen in the webtoon.

    Were there any elements or scenes from the webtoon that were challenging to adapt into the game?

    Inho Kim: When animating the monsters from Solo Leveling, we found Kasaka and Centipedes to be unique compared to others, requiring additional extensive research and development.

    Because Centipedes have multiple legs, we initially attempted to utilize scripts to implement patterns. However, the legs made movement very awkward. With that being the case, the designer had to draw each leg of the Centipedes by hand.

    Sung Jinwoo gains access to classes and a great variety of skills in Solo Leveling: ARISE, just like in the webtoon and anime. During development, did the team have any trouble figuring out the right game balance between Jinwoo, the other hunters, and several enemy types?

    Seong-Keon Jin: A lot of effort was put into implementing a webtoon featuring an endearing protagonist into the game. The balance was achieved by having two different game modes: Sung Junwoo Mode and the Hunter Mode.

    In the Sung Jinwoo Mode, users can play as Sung Jinwoo alongside other Hunters and Shadows they can summon. In Hunter Mode, they can control a team of Hunters (excluding Jinwoo) that can tag team and work with one another. With these both modes balancing the game, we hope players will find Solo Leveling: ARISE offers plenty of gameplay variety.

    I was surprised by the depth of the character roster in Solo Leveling: ARISE, and the original hunter, Emma Laurent, is an interesting new addition. What inspired the creation of an all-new hunter for Solo Leveling: ARISE?

    Inho Kim: It’s important for us to develop and adapt the themes of the Solo Leveling webtoon that many people love.

    We designed the original characters created in the game so that they fit in well with the webtoon, and we will continue to create original hunters and monsters that are unique to the game.

    We’re currently working collaborating with Chugong, the author of the original series, to create original characters in the game. He always gives thorough input and positive feedback to the team. We’re confident that the original content and characters Solo Leveling: ARISE will offer a refreshing experience to players.

    Solo Leveling: ARISE

    What can players expect from post-launch updates for Solo Leveling: ARISE?

    Seong-Keon Jin: We plan to keep true to the story of the original series, while making improvements and updates to the game on a regular basis. We will add various dungeons and raid content, focusing on Sung Jinwoo’s journey to become a stronger Hunter while providing an immersive narrative and cinematic cutscenes.

    Moreover, there will be more Hunters, Shadows and skills original to Solo Leveling: ARISE that players will be able to hone.

    Additional community channels are also in development. We will continue to communicate updates to our players on a regular basis.

    Is there anything else you would like to share with fans of Solo Leveling and those eager to play Solo Leveling: ARISE?

    Seong-Keon Jin: Solo Leveling: ARISE is not just a faithful adaptation of the webtoon’s storyline, it also remains loyal to the core elements of an action game. It promises enjoyment for fans of the original narrative as well as for avid enthusiasts of gaming. As we gear up for the grand launch, we’re set to broaden the story’s scope and introduce exciting new features like guild challenges and raids. Stay tuned for further updates and announcements.

    Solo Leveling: ARISE will officially launch on May 8, 2024 on Android, iOS, and PC worldwide. Pre-registration is available now at the game’s official website.

    Soul Kiwami
    Soul Kiwami
    Raul Ochoa, a.k.a. Soul Kiwami, is the Managing Editor of Final Weapon and a Games Writer at Game Rant with four years of writing and editing experience. Raul is passionate about the Japanese gaming industry, and he's a huge fan of Nintendo Switch, PC hardware, JRPGs, and fighting games. business email: [email protected] | Muck Rack:

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